Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Ramblings of a Single Girl

**Disclaimer: This is one of those posts where you are entering the depths of how a single girl thinks...well, how this single girl thinks anyway. You've been warned. Then again, maybe you feel this way sometimes too...

I almost didn't publish this blog but a good friend encouraged me to. Being "The Real Me" is an intriguing concept, but sometimes it's not easy.


"And I wonder if I ever cross your mind...for me it happens all the time." Lady Antebellum
You with your beautiful smile that lights up a room.
You with a hug that radiates safety.
You with a kindness that can make anyone feel comfortable.
You with a presence of confidence.

I don't understand the "rules", I probably never will. I'm praying God can work around that. That He can connect me with a person that understands my awkwardness. As well as my ability to be both too shy and too brave at the same time. I'm never really sure if I should sit back and wait for an opportunity to smack me in the face, or if I should take chances when I think they are worth it. Did you know that if you ask 20 different people relationship advice, that you will get 20 different answers? This is true in both religious circles and non-religious circles. Maybe there is no right and wrong when it comes to trying to connect with another person (I am not speaking physically here...I DO believe there is right and wrong with that aspect).

But then, if there is no right and wrong and it is a matter of preference...how do you know what the other person's preference is? I mean, what if you feel like it's perfectly fine to ask another person on a date, but that other person finds it pushy? What if the result is better if you wait. But what if you wait and the other person never knows that you are interested.

And then there is that risk of rejection and the fear that you might lose a friend...or ruin an opportunity to have a friend because of the lingering awkwardness.

Some believe that none of that matters and if it is meant to be then God will work it all out regardless of the steps you take. Others will say "when you stop looking, then "it" will happen". I don't really know that I agree with either of these particular thoughts. Does God have the power to work things out regardless of the choices we make? Yes, He does. But will He? I'm not sure.

And then there is online dating, which is so confusing to me. The rules are totally different there. When you meet someone in person, all of the thoughts above are in play. But online, everyone is looking for someone to date, right? So people talk, flirt, and meet with the understanding that you are seeking a relationship, right? Why is it okay to be this way when you meet someone online, but it's not okay when you meet someone in person (or what I call, the old-fashioned way)? Shouldn't connecting with people in your own area, social circles, churches, etc...be easier? I may have mentioned this before, but there are a lot of things that bother me about online dating, yet I still have a "profile". Everybody says this is how people meet these days. And sometimes I give it a ligitimate try, but most of the time I go in cynical. Now it's even worse since I went through that human trafficking training...I don't really trust any online strangers.

I have heard LOTS of people's special stories. And so I know that every story is different. What "works" for some doesn't work for others and vice versa. Why do I get so frustrated? Why do I let it get to me? Should I just let it all go?

I spent several years of my life stuck. Believing that I had found the man that God had for me. I fell in love and I knew that I would do anything for this man when we ended up together. But then we didn't end up together and I spend way too long confused and longing for something that would never be. After working through the emotions of that, and after seeing some relationships of people close to me break apart, I decided that being single wasn't so bad and if that is the path God has for me, I am okay with it. I focused on work and on friendships and the things that matter to me the most. And for 3ish years I was totally content with this. Today, there is still a part of me that is content with the idea of singleness if that is what my life holds, but my heart has been awakened to the idea of love once again and I believe that God created me to share my life with another person.

At 33 years old, I'm a pretty independent person and I know when the time comes, there will be challenges in merging my life with another. But I also believe that the pros will outweigh the cons because I will have waited for that person who will love me and who will desire to be loved by me. It will be worth it. But I still can't figure out the rules...

So I wait. And I pray. And I wrestle. And I dream. And I hope. And I fear. And I wonder. How far away is my someday?

-The Real Me

Lover All Alone by Clay Aiken: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WY69CiNfWok&index=3&list=PLGzTpX4txyFD1-TbSZrRYNlShoiYzrnwA

Saturday, April 12, 2014

A Great Birthday Weekend

So far, this weekend has been  humbling and special. I could not have asked for a better birthday weekend! Tomorrow I turn 33 years old. 32 was a fantastic year, it's hard to imagine 33 being even better, but I hope it is!

On Friday night I sat through a training with The Justice Project (http://www.thejusticeproject.net) which is an organization who's mission is to abolish human sex trafficking in the Charlotte area. When you read that sentence, it's doesn't sound like a fun way to spend a Friday night; and it was in fact very overwhelming and difficult content to learn. But, as you learn about just how big of a horrible problem this is in our city, it becomes humbling to think you can have just a small impact that could be huge for a young girl in the midst of it. Human trafficking is a huge industry in the US and around the world and it is sickening. I think probably many of us (I was one) thought that this kind of thing happens in other countries but not here...we were wrong. Once you know about it, I can't imagine sitting around and doing nothing! I am not sure exactly how I will be involved as a volunteer, but I do know that I will be involved somehow.

That brings me to today, which was a fantastic day. While my official birthday is tomorrow, I celebrated today, and I started the day with an amazing group of ladies hanging out with another amazing group of ladies!! It has been years since I have been a part of an Easter egg hunt so it was ridiculously fun to hide a bunch of eggs and watch adults and children alike race to find them! The Easter Bunny showed up and we had food and singing and dancing. Such a special time with the ladies of The Dove's Nest. (http://charlotterescuemission.org/our-programs/doves-nest/). I have been at UpsideDown Church for 7 1/2 months and already it has openned up my eyes to so many opportunities to impact the lives of others. There is nothing more important. This is Christ in action. Showing people God's love, not just talking about it.

This afternoon some of my favorite people joined me for bowling and dinner to celebrate my birthday. As my friends from different times and places in my life converged to be a part of my special day, I was overwhelmed. 10 years ago I made a choice to move to the south. I didn't know what for as none of my initial plans worked out, but what a ride it has been. I've been through many ups and downs, changes, challenges, growing experiences, great times, hard times...and all of my experiences have brought me to where I am today, with so many awesome people in my life that I can learn from and be encouraged by daily. People from 6 different churches around the area were represented at my party, which truely is an example of the body of Christ. There were friends that I've had for years and friends I just met. There was friendly competition and a whole lot of laughs!! I am blessed. I don't know what the next year of my life holds. I hope there are great things to come. I have dreams and desires I would love to see become realities. I have friendships I'd love to cultivate and see grow. I want to learn how to love people better and serve with my whole heart unselfishly. I want to give more because so much has been given to me.

Thank you Andy, Rachel, Hanna, Webster, Beth, Sarah, April, Brian, Rhonda, Kim, Makeba, Nick, Tameka, Cameron, Kennedi, Tamer, Heather, Matt, Matt, Melody, Josie, and Allyson for being a part of my day.

-The Real Me

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Majestic Tour 2014

I went to a Kari Jobe, Rend Collective, and Warren Barfield concert last night. It was SO GOOD. Which is kind of funny since I wasn't super interested in going to the concert to begin with. You see, my friend really want to go...so much so that she bought me a ticket months ago. I am thankful for her gift. I have had a stressful week and so a night of worship with one of the most encouraging worship leaders was just what I needed (thanks E, you're the best!)

Before the concert, Kari and Chris (lead singer for Rend Collective) did a Q&A session with the audience and they had some great insight for worship leaders. I wrote some of my favorites down.

Question One: "What is your advice for aspiring worship leaders?"
Answer from Chris: "Love people more than you love music. And, learn your words."

Both excellent pieces of advice. Learning your words is always great advice, lol. You know, so if the lyrics computer goes out you don't have to stop the service. I'm still working on this one!! Though, love people is the more important piece of advice in my opinion. As a worship leader it is easy to get wrapped up in the music, the details, wanting to be better, or wanting to be seen. If we aren't careful, a desire to worship the Lord can become self-centered rather than God-centered. Remembering to love people means to me that we remember the number one goal is to worship God and allow people to enter into that special worship connection with the Lord as well. Worship leading is not a performance, it is a service to the body of Christ. Which leads me to Kari's response to the same question.

Answer from Kari: "Remember the service side of leading worship." She shared  the example of her own service to her home church. Even though she travels around the country leading worship for huge audiences, she remains a worship leader in her home church where she still has to submit her song list for approval each week so that she stays in agreement with her pastor and the church body.

Next question: "What is your heart song. One of your songs or someone elses's that connects with your heart the most.

Answer from Chris: "Boldly I Approach" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4QDnVD7gu5Y
Answer from Kari: "You are For Me" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UbSMfL5LuSo

Question 3: Kari on being single and looking for a relationship.
Answer: While she is excited that she now has a boyfriend, one thought that she shared "There are good guys and there are Godly guys. Wait for the Godly guy. Where you will have peace inside your heart and you won't ever feel like you have to sacrifice the Kingdom goals God has given you."

After the Q&A, the concert was just fantastic. All artists approach the stage humbly and in an attitude of worship. It's important to note, not all worship songs are slow songs. Rend Collective is a band I had never heard of before. I love their style, many of their songs have a different but cool kind of beat. It's peppy and celebratory. So much fun. The band is from Ireland and has some cool, different instruments and great accents. And they love the Lord.

The song that spoke to my heart the most this night: Healer, this isn't a new song to me, but the lyrics pierced my heart this night. "Nothing is Impossible for you [God], you hold the world in your hands.

I'm so thankful for special moments. Little gifts that God gives us. An opportunity to worship in the midst of a difficult week. A few moments to gain wisdom from the experience of others. A friend who will buy you a concert ticket to share a few hours with each other. Blessings, all of them.

-The Real Me